philosophy

Midnight in the century: notes against progress - Miguel Amorós

An examination of the history and significance of the concept of “progress”, its origins as an expression of the Enlightenment’s battle against religious bigotry and ignorance, its transformation into a “new [scientific] superstition” characterized by indifference to nature and the worship of technological change, and its current status as “a threat to the survival of the human species”.

Midnight in the Century – Notes against Progress – Miguel Amorós

Preliminary discourse - Encyclopédie des Nuisances

The introductory essay of the first issue of the journal, Encyclopédie des Nuisances (The Encyclopedia of Nuisances, or Encyclopedia of Harmful Phenomena), published by the group of the same name in 1984.

Preliminary Discourse – Encyclopédie des Nuisances

Part One (Encyclopédie des Nuisances, No. 1, pages 3 to 10)

In defense of vernacular ways

The crises con­tinue to accu­mu­late: the eco­nomic cri­sis, the eco­log­i­cal cri­sis, the social cri­sis, crises upon crises. But as we try to cre­ate “solu­tions,” we dis­tress­ingly find our­selves up against a limit, dis­cov­er­ing that the only alter­na­tives we can imag­ine are merely mod­i­fi­ca­tions of the same.

​​Pity, manifestos, and the left

The left is dead; it died of pity for itself. Questions of where the ‘radical’ non-liberal left is going, of where it needs to go, of where it could go if (only any given line of programmatic measures were applied), all are the staples of any properly rounded left-academic polemic which may appear in the spectacular of today.

"Preface" to Impasse Adam Smith - Jean-Claude Michéa

A provocative introductory essay by the author of Impasse Adam Smith that maintains that the Left, “which has always presented itself … as the sole legitimate heir of Enlightenment philosophy”, with its “religion of ‘Progress’”, “nourished on exactly the same philosophical sources as modern liberalism”, is not only alien to the spirit of the original socialism of the early 19th century, but is also intrinsically incapable of constituting a real challenge to contemporary capitalism, and that “the requirements of a coherent battle against the liberal utopia … render a radical break with the intellectual imaginary of the Left politically necessary”.

“Preface” to Impasse Adam Smith – Jean-Claude Michéa

The school of ignorance and its modern conditions - Jean-Claude Michéa

In this 1997 essay, contemporary educational reform is offered as an illustration of not only the destructive effects of capitalist modernization, but also of the ambiguity of a “libertarian” concept of progress (exemplified by “the recuperable side” of May ‘68) that often only serves to facilitate and justify capitalism’s elimination of traditional structures of human society (customs, family, etc.) that once shielded humanity from the noxious effects of the ongoing realization of capitalism’s “negative utopia” (an “anthropological impossibility”) that reduces humans to “monads” of “enlightened self-interest”.

The School of Ignorance and Its Modern Conditions – Jean-Claude Michéa

“Nowadays we everywhere seek to propagate wisdom: who knows whether in a couple of centuries there may not exist universities for restoring the old ignorance.”

Lichtenberg (1742-1799)

Discipline and punish: The birth of the prison - Michel Foucault

Barely two hundred and fifty years ago man condemned of attempting to assassinate the King of France was drawn and quartered in a grisly spectacle that suggested an unmediated duel between the violence of the criminal and the violence of the state.

This groundbreaking book by the most influential philosopher since Sartre compels us to reevaluate our assumptions about all the ensuing reforms in the penal institutions of the West.

One-dimensional man: Studies in the ideology of advanced industrial society - Herbert Marcuse

Originally published in 1964, One-Dimensional Man quickly became one of the most important texts in the ensuing decade of radical political change.

Published in 1964, it fast became an ideological bible for the emergent New Left. It expressed the hopes of a radical philosopher that human freedom and happiness could be greatly expanded beyond the regimented thought and behaviour prevalent in established society. For those who held the reigns of power Marcuse's call to arms threatened civilization to its very core.

Nausea - Jean-Paul Sartre

Nausea is the story of Antoine Roquentin, a French writer who is horrified at his own existence.

In impressionistic, diary form he ruthlessly catalogs his every feeling and sensation about the world and people around him.

Fantasies - Noam Chomsky

In an ongoing dispute, Chomsky responds to Zizek claiming that he didn't "know a guy who was so often empirically wrong" as Chomsky, and in particular a claim that Chomsky supported the Khmer Rouge.

I've received a number of requests to comment on the post: “Slavoj Žižek Responds to Noam Chomsky: ‘I Don’t Know a Guy Who Was So Often Empirically Wrong’” (http://www.openculture.com/2013/07/slavoj-zizek-responds-to-noam-chomsky.html).